Private School Regulation
Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: The Board of Education does
not accredit private schools. The Virginia Council for Private Education
(VCPE), a private umbrella organization of associations whose membership
is comprised of private schools, accredits private schools. The Board recognizes
accreditation by VCPE member organizations.
Schools for students with disabilities must be licensed by the Board of
Education unless otherwise approved or accredited. School facilities must
be inspected and approved by the Board. At least one unannounced inspection
of each residential school for children with disabilities must be made
annually. Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-319 et seq.
Recordkeeping/Reports: Every teacher in Virginia must keep an
accurate daily record of attendance of children enrolled. The record must
be open for inspection and may be admitted into evidence for prosecutions
of violations of the compulsory school attendance laws. Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-259.
Schools must record each student's immunizations on the school immunization
record provided by the State Department of Health for the student's permanent
record. The record must be kept open for inspection by the State Department
of Health and the local health department. Within 30 days of the start
of school, private schools must file a report with the local health department
stating the number of students admitted with documentary proof of immunization,
the number of students admitted with a medical or religious exemption,
and the number of students conditionally admitted. Va. Code Ann. §§ 22.1-271.2E.
Length of School Year/Day: Virginia's compulsory attendance laws
require children to attend school, public, private, denomination or parochial,
during the period of each year the public schools are in session and for
the same number of days and hours per day as the public schools. The length
of the school term for public schools is 180 days or 990 hours. Va. Code
Ann. § 22.1-254.
Discrimination: Private educational institutions that accept state
funds may not deny admission, full and equal access, or the enjoyment of
any educational or extracurricular program to an otherwise qualified person
with a disability. Va. Code Ann. § 51.5-42.
Special Education: A school division may publicly place a disabled
child in a nonsectarian private school approved by the Board of Education
or another licensing agency if the school division is unable to provide
a free appropriate public education for the child. Placements identified
on a child’s Individualized Education Program are paid out of the
locality’s Comprehensive Services Act State Pool of Funds. Va. Code
Ann. §§ 22.1-218A and 22.1-745 et seq. The Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. does not
require Virginia to place handicapped children in nonapproved private schools. Schimmel
ex rel. Schimmel v. Spillane, 819 F.2d 477 (4th Cir. 1987).
Health: No student may be admitted by a school unless the student
submits documentary proof of immunization, an affidavit stating the immunizations
conflict with the student's religious tenets, or certification from a physician
that the immunization is detrimental to the student's health. Students
may be admitted conditionally if their immunizations are incomplete and
they submit a schedule for completion within 90 days. The State Health
Commissioner has the authority to exclude children from school who are
not immunized in the event of an outbreak, potential epidemic, or epidemic.
Va. Code Ann. § 321-47.
The State Health Commissioner has the authority to inspect dining accommodations
of private schools upon presentation of credentials and consent by the
owner. Va. Code Ann. § 35.1-1; 35.1-5.
Safety: Employees of private schools who have reason to suspect
that a child is an abused or neglected child must report the matter immediately
to the local social services department of the county/city where the child
resides or where the alleged abuse occurred. Va. Code Ann. § 63.1-248.3.
It is a criminal offense in Virginia to distribute any controlled substance,
imitation controlled substance, or marijuana on the property of a private
elementary or secondary school, within 1,000 feet of the school, or on
any school bus. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-255.2A.
Virginia's criminal code prohibits 1) the willful discharge of a firearm,
unless justifiable by law; 2) brandishing a firearm in such a manner as
to reasonably induce fear of being shot or injured; and 3) possession of
a stun weapon, taser, or weapon other than a firearm, in any private or
parochial elementary, middle or high school or within 1,000 feet of the
school. Va. Code Ann. §§ 18.2-280B; 18.2-282A; 18.2-308.1.
It is a misdemeanor to possess a beeper or similar portable communications
device on the grounds of any private elementary, middle or secondary school.
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-322.1A.
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board may refuse to grant a liquor
license if the location of the applicant would adversely affect the operations
of a private or parochial school. Va. Code Ann. § 4.1-222.
The governing board of a private school must furnish protective eye devices,
free or at cost, for students, teachers, and visitors participating in
specified vocational or industrial arts shops or laboratories. Va. Code
Ann. § 22.1-275.
All applicants for full-time, part-time, permanent and/or temporary employment
at an accredited private school are required to submit to fingerprinting
and to provide personal descriptive information to be forwarded along with
the applicant’s fingerprints through the Central Criminal Records
Exchange to the FBI for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record
information as a condition of employment. This is not a requirement for
non-accredited schools. Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-296.3.
Transportation: Parochial and private schools may not hire a school
bus driver unless the individual meets the qualifications required of public
school bus drivers and presents the necessary documentation. Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-180.
School buses transporting pupils to and from private or parochial schools,
may not discharge pupils in a manner that the child must cross a highway
with two or more roadways separated by a physical barrier or unpaved area,
or a highway with five or more lanes with the center lane a flush median
marked for turning traffic only. Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-918.
Home Schooling: Parents are permitted to provide home instruction
in lieu of school attendance if they meet any one of the following four
conditions. The teaching parent: 1) holds a baccalaureate degree from an
accredited institution of higher education; 2) meets the qualifications
for a teacher prescribed by the board of education; 3) enrolls the child
or children in a correspondence course approved by the Superintendent of
Public Instruction; or 4) provides a program of study or curriculum which,
in the judgment of the division superintendent, includes the standards
of learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education for language arts
(English) and mathematics and provides evidence that the parent is able
to provide an adequate education for the child. Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-254.1
By August 1, the parent is required to submit evidence of the child’s
academic achievement in one of the following ways: 1) Evidence that the
child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on
a batter of achievement tests approved for use in the public schools; or
2) An evaluation or assessment which, in the judgment of the division superintendent,
indicates that the child is achieving an adequate level of education growth
and progress. Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-254.1 (C).
Local school boards may permit part-time attendance of home schooled and
private school students. Students may be allowed to enroll in classes in
English, mathematics, science, history/social science, foreign language,
vocational education, and fine arts. Participation in certain interscholastic
activities such as varsity sports is governed by policies of the Virginia
High School League. Other extracurricular activities are governed by policies
of the local school board.
It is not required that children being taught at home be allowed to participate
in extra-curricular or special programs offered by the school division.
In the absence of program guidelines for the specific request, local school
board policy prevails.
Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Under
Virginia's constitution, no appropriation may be made to any school not
owned or exclusively controlled by the State or a political subdivision;
provided, the General Assembly may make appropriations for the elementary
and secondary education of Virginia students in nonsectarian private schools.
Va. Const. Art. VIII, Section 10.
Property owned by nonprofit institutions of learning and used primarily
for educational purposes is exempt from State and local taxation. Va. Const.
Art. X, Section 6(4).
Private, nonprofit nonsectarian schools are entitled to a refund on taxes
paid for fuels used to transport children to and from school and educational
or athletic activities. Va. Code Ann. § 58.2-2122.
Miscellaneous: By statute, one private school librarian serves
on the nine-member State Networking Users Advisory Board to advise the
State Librarian and the State Library Board on policies, standards, funding
levels and requirements for use. Va. Code Ann. § 42.1-32.7.
Fairfax, Arlington, Dinwiddie and Prince George counties are authorized
to tax admission charged for attendance at private elementary and secondary
school-sponsored events, including events sponsored by school-recognized
student organizations. Va. Code Ann. §§ 58.1-3817; 58.1-3818.